(CMR) Period products, including pads and tampons, will be available in public buildings, schools, and universities across Scotland, as the country became the first to make these products accessible for all.
Scottish lawmakers passed the Period Products bill unanimously in November 2020, representing a landmark victory for the global movement against period poverty. The new law means it will be the responsibility of local authorities and education providers to ensure the products are available free of charge.
Products will be distributed through councils and education providers as the Period Products Act came into force on Monday, 15 August. The bill was introduced by Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who has been campaigning to end period poverty since 2016, BBC News reported.
“Local authorities and partner organizations have worked hard to make the legal right to access free period products a reality. This is another big milestone for period dignity campaigners and grassroots movements which shows the difference that progressive and bold political choices can make,” Lennon said.
She added: “As the cost-of-living crisis takes hold, the Period Products Act is a beacon of hope which shows what can be achieved when politicians come together for the good of the people we serve.”
Period poverty is when those on low incomes can't afford or access suitable period products. With average periods lasting about five days, it can cost up to £8 a month for tampons and pads, and some women struggle to afford the cost.
According to BBC, in 2018, a survey of more than 2,000 people by Young Scot found that about one in four respondents at school, college, or university in Scotland had struggled to access period products.
That year, the Scottish government made history by becoming the first in the world to make period products free to students.
Since it launched the scheme, another Young Scot survey found that two-thirds of respondents had received free period products from their school, college, or university in the past year. Of those who accessed the free products, 84% said the scheme positively impacted them.
The impact on education is also an area the bill aims to tackle – with researchers finding that 64% of girls surveyed in the UK have missed school because of their period.
Research showed that 13% had missed an entire school day at least once a month, 34% were worried about leaking, and 22% had anxiety linked to periods.
According to the BBC, the Period Products Act v says obtaining the free period products should be neither “complex nor bureaucratic.” Items should be freely accessible from council or educational institutions, without people having to ask for them.
They should not have to justify their need or the amount needed. There should also be no forms to complete and no other information required for people to access the products unless it is needed for design or postal delivery.
As part of work to tackle the stigma around menstruation and period products, the act says responsible bodies should consider the importance of normalization and visibility.
The UK government has its own period poverty task force, with the primary aim of tackling stigma and education around periods and improving the accessibility of period products.